Estate Planning is a complicated subject. The terminology can make it confusing and creates many misconceptions. These are the top 6 mistakes we see:
- Not recognizing your own mortality. Creating a Trust or a Will is something that most people recognize that they need to do. However, a large portion of the population procrastinates and says, “I’ll get to it later”, but later often doesn’t come.
- Not choosing the correct plan. It’s important to meet with an Estate Planning Attorney so that you know you are getting a plan that will properly protect you, your family and your assets. While people often think of a Will as the core Estate Planning document, a Trust may better for you depending on your assets. In other cases, we see individuals create a Trust or a Will, but don’t create ancillary documents like a Power of Attorney or Health Care Directive. This can cause serious issues if you become incapacitated and don’t have a declared agent to handle your affairs.
- Creating an Estate Plan without a Plan B. When creating a plan, you really want to think about all the what-ifs. You should have contingency plans for your successor trustee, agents and beneficiaries. If the individuals you have initial chosen are unavailable and there are no back-ups the court ultimately will need to become involved.
- Leaving beneficiaries with an outright distribution. If you have beneficiaries that are underage, not good with finances, on government entitlements, married or with creditors leaving them a lump sum of money may not be what is best for them. By leaving assets in trust you can still leave an inheritance with the comfort of knowing that these assets will not be squandered.
- Not funding your trust. A Trust is like a treasure chest, once you’ve created the trust all of your assets need to be placed into this chest. Without changing title to your assets they will have to go through Probate when you pass and be funneled into your trust before they can be distributed to your beneficiaries.
- Neglecting your plan. There is a common belief that, once you’ve created a plan, you’re done and can put it away until you need it. This is false: your plan should be reviewed and updated regularly so you can ensure it will still carry out your wishes. Your plan may be affected by a variety of changes over the years, whether within your family, your assets, or the laws themselves. If you have taken the time to create a plan, be sure to maintain it.